Sansheng asked Xuefeng, “The golden fish that’s passed through the net – what does it use for food?”
Xuefeng said, “When you come out of the net, then I’ll tell you.”
Sansheng said, “The teacher of fifteen hundred people, yet you don’t even know a saying.”
Xuefeng said, “My tasks as abbot are many.” (Book of Serenity, case 33)

Xuefeng throws some serious shade at the end, and rightly so. The point is that if you ‘pass through the net’ – or the ‘gateless gate’, to use an analogous expression – you no longer worry about the things you worried about before, and if you have not passed through, then why waste time being concerned with what is in the future? It will not, as Dogen pointed out in Shobogenzo Yuibutsu Yobutsu, be the way you thought of it at all (I am surprised that I don’t seem to have quoted that passage, and I shall rectify it soon…)
It is also worth considering the Xuefeng is not letting on whether he has ‘passed through’ or not (we assume, as the monk does, that he has), but in either case, he still has work to do as abbot.


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